In Shopian calm, Omar cabinet set to expand

Written by Mir Ehsan | Srinagar | Updated: Jun 30 2009, 04:17am hrs
The much awaited expansion of the Omar Abdullah cabinet in J&K will take place this week, soon after governor N N Vohra, who is out of the state, resumes duties. Fourteen new ministers will be inducted.

The cabinet expansion was scheduled for early this month but was delayed after the Shopian incident threw the Valley into turmoil. National Conference and the Congress, partners in the state government, then failed to shortlist the names of their respective leaders to be inducted into the cabinet, further delaying the expansion.

The names of members to be inducted into the cabinet have been finalised, state president of the Congress, Saif-ud-din Soz said. Soz refused to name them.

The Congresss list, sources said, has the names of some of the Congress alliance partners. It is not known, however, if all three alliance partners of the CongressDemocratic Party (Nationalist) Patron Ghulam Hassan Mir, Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF) president Hakim Yasin and CPM State general secretary Yousuf Tarigamiare in the list. Mir and Hakim were ministers in the previous Congress-PDP Government.

Some Congress leaders are opposed to the party giving ministerial berths from its quota to the allies. They argue that retaining these berths for Congress leaders will strengthen the party's base in Jammu where it lost ground to the BJP in the 2008 assembly elections.

The Congress list, approved by Sonia Gandhi, has three nominees from Kashmir and four from Jammu region, sources said.